The original R-badged Golf hot hatch might cost half as much, but it doesn’t feel like half the car
The latest Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years is the most powerful production Golf ever made, producing 328bhp from its upgraded 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It’s a neat bit of kit, but all that power and fancy new touchscreen tech is expected to come with a hefty £50k price tag, which is absurd for a hot-hatch. For those looking for something a bit different, we’ve found this well-maintained original Golf R32, the one that started the R lineage, currently listed on AutoTrader by FS Performance for just £25,000 ($31,530.25).
The Tornado Red car has covered just 51,000 miles and is one of just 44 examples finished in the colour. It comes with a fully documented service history along with a recent MOT for some peace of mind. The original R-badged Golf is powered by a throaty 3.2-litre transverse six-cylinder engine that produced 240bhp from new, with two more cylinders than the latest model instead of a turbocharger. Unlike the latest auto-only Golf R, the original R32 uses a six-speed manual gearbox, which will be music to the ears of stick-shift fans. The 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system will fire the R32 from 0-62mph in around 6.6 seconds and go on to reach a top speed of 153mph – impressive figures for a car that’s nearly two decades old.
This original R32 also comes with a black leather interior, sunroof, Milltek exhaust system, and a Stealth Racing ECU remap. The car rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and features heavily bolstered heated sports seats for the driver and front passenger. What more could you possibly want from a hot hatch?
Examples of the Mk4 R32 are available for quite a bit less, but this Tornado Red Golf looks like one of the best examples money can buy. As the seller puts it, “this R32 has been maintained regardless of cost”, and we’d recommend stretching to buy the best car possible to avoid running into expensive problems later on down the line, unless you’re handy with a spanner and fancy a summer project.
There are plenty of other great R-badged Golfs out there if the original R32 doesn’t take your fancy. The Mk5 Golf R32 offers updated body styling with a similar 3.2-litre V6 setup, while the Mk6 dropped the ‘32’ namesake in favour of the current R badge, as its engine shrank in size and dropped two cylinders.
The Mk7 Golf R is a true hot-hatch hero, with subtle looks, but four oval exhaust tips that are a dead giveaway at what’s under the bonnet – a 295bhp 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder. Depending on your taste, both six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission examples are easy to find . As they say, you can’t go wrong with a Golf, and the R32 is the ultimate expression of the German hatch.
We think that the original R32 is a real head-turner with proper hot-hatch heritage, though we aren’t convinced by the bulky, touchscreen-heavy Golf R 20 Years. Choosing the original R32 will grant you a piece of Volkswagen’s rich hot-hatch history, perfect for talking about at Cars and Coffee meetups. So, which car would you choose?